City planners OK latest Domino pitch

FIRST LOOK: Renderings show the future of the Domino Sugar factory
Courtesy of Two Trees Management Company

City planners unanimously approved Two Trees Management’s Domino Sugar factory redevelopment plan this morning.

The City Planning Commission’s approval came less than 48 hours after the developer reached a last-minute deal with Mayor DeBlasio to increase the number of so-called “affordable” units in the five-building Domino Sugar factory complex from 660 to 700. Two Trees bigs were elated at having cleared the bureaucratic hurdle to making its five-building, 2,300-unit waterfront complex a reality.

“We are relieved, we are proud, and we are excited and we cannot wait to start work,” said Dave Lombino, the developer’s head of special projects.

DeBlasio had threatened to sink the project unless the builder added more cheap digs.

The project is the first major development proposal to come across the mayor’s desk and DeBlasio had demanded that Two Trees increase the amount of so-called “affordable housing” from 500,000 square feet of the 2.28 million square feet of floor space in the luxury complex, or 660 units of 2,300, to 550,000 square feet. The developer ultimately agreed to a total of 610,000 square feet, or 700 units.

At first, Two Trees balked, saying it could not afford to put in any more low-rent accommodations.

“We are very concerned that the demands being imposed by the city will make us unable to finance the project and move forward with it at all — costing working families in Williamsburg badly needed affordable housing, open space, and jobs,” Two Trees head Jed Walentas originally said.

The development plan by the previous owner of the land at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge reserved just 440 units, or 410,000 square-feet of 2.44 million, for below-market-rate apartments. And because the city has already okayed that proposal, Walentas has vowed to revert to it if he does not get his way.

Neighborhood activists said they were glad that DeBlasio put Two Trees’ feet to the fire.

“If the mayor just rubber-stamps this one and moves along, everyone else is going to expect the same deal,” said Neil Sheehan, head of the anti-substance-abuse Outreach Project.

The Council is supposed to vote on the project within 50 days.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
Fearless leader: Mayor DeBlasio's Domino demand is the first big stand he has taken on a proposed development.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham